Jennette McCurdy is ready to open up about a personal health battle.
In support of the recent National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, the iCarly star penned a personal essay for the Huffington Post about her own experience.
“My disordered eating started when I was 11. As a child actress working in Hollywood, I quickly learned that remaining physically small for my age meant I had a better chance of booking more roles,” she wrote in a new essay published Friday morning. “Unfortunately, I had a trusty and dedicated companion ready to help me with my burgeoning anorexia: my mom!”
According to the former Nickelodeon star, Jennette’s mom had been hospitalized for anorexia on several occasions when she was a teenager. In fact, the actress says she’s “not convinced [my mom] ever overcame her disordered eating.”
But when Jennette was cast in iCarly alongside Miranda Cosgrove and Jerry Trainor, the stress of having to be “on” all the time got to her.
“I became even more fixated on food and my body. I monitored every bite I took,” she wrote. “I exercised obsessively. I measured my thighs with a measuring tape every night before bed.”
And when she turned 18 and her mom was diagnosed with cancer for a second time, Jennette began “my binge eating phase.”
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
“I still tracked, calculated and obsessed about every single thing that went into my mouth, just the same as when I had anorexia. The only difference was that I was eating a lot more,” she shared with her fans. “I was constantly preoccupied with food. Nothing meant more to me than my next bite and nothing gave me more shame than my last one. I was in a toxic, self-loathing cycle.”
While her disordered eating habits changed over time, Jennette says not one person in the entertainment industry confronted her about it. One individual who finally spoke up was her sister-in-law.
Jennette began meeting with a therapist three times a week. The professional would also attend “particularly stressful” industry events like red carpets and award shows. When the therapist suggested an inpatient treatment facility, Jennette quit seeing her.
At 23, however, Jennette met an eating disorder specialist who used a combination of cognitive behavioral, dialectical behavioral and scheme-based therapies. “Recovery was brutal. It felt like breaking up with a bad boyfriend whom I loved even though I knew I shouldn’t,” Jennette wrote. “He treated me poorly, he ruined my life, he consistently devastated me, and yet, without him, who was I really?”
While the actress admits to having several slip ups, she remains focused on the program and living a healthier lifestyle.
“Anytime I’ve had a slip, I’ve gotten back on my program. It’s been two years and I’m doing well, recovering and moving forward. I still get eating disorder urges, compulsions and occasional fantasies. I still hear that old eating disorder voice, but luckily I hear it less and less often,” she wrote. “And when I do hear it, I now have the tools to muffle it.”
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline at 1-800-931-2237.